Longtime Dare2tri volunteer Todd Nelson was featured in a newsletter article from Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., his place of employment. Check out the feature Q&A about his time spent with Dare2tri!
As if motivating oneself to run wasn't enough, Todd Nelson (JTC) voluntarily—enthusiastically!— encourages and supports other people whose obstacles to athletic achievement are greater than average. A relative newcomer to the competitive racing world, himself, Todd shares his energy and passion for triathlons with parathletes of all ages, guiding them through the athletic rigors of a notoriously demanding competition so that they can, together, cross the finish line.
How long have you been doing triathlons competitively?
A friend introduced me to running in the summer of 2011, and I ran my first 5K (3.1 miles). At the time, I considered a 5K to be a VERY long distance and never thought I could run that far. I ran the entire distance without stopping and was drawn to the humanity and fulfillment of the experience. Shortly after this race, the same friend encouraged me to run my first sprint triathlon (half-mile swim, 12-mile bike, and 5K run) on the south shores of Lake Michigan. Even with the 3-foot waves of Lake Michigan, I successfully completed the race and was instantly hooked on triathlons! I very much enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment, learning the nuances of the sport, and the benefits of the training.
How did you hear about Dare2tri and get involved with the organization?
After my first, I competed in numerous triathlons in 2012 and 2013, and I ran alongside many Dare2tri para-athletes. This planted a seed. With my ever-increasing passion for triathlons, I decided that this may be an opportunity to provide paratriathletes the rewards of the sport: quality lifestyle, comradery, fulfillment, and accomplishment.
Please explain the mission of Dare2tri:
Founded in 2011, Dare2tri is a relatively new organization. The cofounders are Melissa Stockwell (paratriathlete bronze medalist in the Rio Paralympics—most people may recognize her
Chobani commercials), Keri Serota, and Dan Tun. Their mission is to provide opportunity to paratriathletes to train and compete in triathlons. They positively impact athletes with physical disabilities and visual impairments by developing skills in paratriathlon. The organization holds training camps; provides equipment, guides, and coaches; raises money for race fees and expenses; and provides a positive environment and culture to promote the sport.
How many parathletes have you participated with? Do you train together in advance of the event or meet just prior?
For my first Dare2tri experience, I guided a blind athlete in his very first triathlon. Prior to the race, I had never met the athlete nor had I ever swam or ran with a blind athlete. You can imagine my anxiety—and his. We did talk on the phone once prior to the race. He was amazingly calm about the upcoming race. This helped my nerves. The courage that I observed from this athlete during the race was amazing and inspiring. Since then, I have guided about a dozen athletes in triathlons, with most athletes being visually impaired (blind). Some athletes I have a chance to guide prior to the race, but that is not always the case. I have also been involved in developmental camps for veterans, kids, and elite paratriathletes.
Anything else you’d like to share?
In 2016, I decided to attempt my first Ironman triathlon, which was held in Madison, Wisconsin. An
Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile swim; followed by a 112-mile bike race; and finishes with a 26.2-mile run. Yes, that’s right—finishes with a marathon! So much for my first 5K being a long distance! With this journey, I also raised money for Dare2tri. This money helped provide opportunity for paratriathletes to train and compete in triathlon. For more information on Dare2tri, please visit their web site.